Little Home, Big World

…what would Ma do?

Taking My Own Advice June 20, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Thoughts — bethanyjoy @ 8:40 am
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Irony is posting about rolling with life’s challenges, and then having a couple big ones wallop you good a few days later.

I find myself taking my own advice, or rather, trying to  – there’s a fine line at times between acceptance and denial. One will help you move on; the other just prolongs the battle. If you’re anything like me, you spend a few days bouncing from one to the other.

I’m also spending a lot of time breathing deep. Looking outside at the trees and the lake, and when I can’t sleep, the moon and stars. Did I mention breathing? Lots and lots of that. In with Mr. Good Air, out with Mr. Bad Air…

And looking at the good stuff. There’s always good stuff. Even when jobs are in the air and housing in flux, there is good stuff. Healthy kids. A somewhat chaotic and wacky family, but one that loves intensely. Sunshine. Summer breezes. The joy of a good book. The feeling of sand beneath your bare feet. A favourite song on the radio, right when you need to hear it. Imagination. Creativity. Pink hair. Yummy-smelling bodywash. Beautiful yarn. Chocolate-peanut-butter-cup-ice-cream.

If you open your mind and think about it, there’s always more good stuff. Hold onto it with both hands. The sun sets on good days and bad days, but we’ll only see the beauty of it if we take the time to look.

 

Roll With It June 13, 2011

Filed under: Thoughts — bethanyjoy @ 9:12 am
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I was nine – or close to it – when I went to a riding day camp. I saved pennies, folded laundry, and washed dishes (for something dramatically lower than minimum wage) to earn the money to go. I was so excited. Visions of trotting and jumping cantered gracefully through my imagination. Imagine my surprise when the first thing they taught us was how to fall.

“Roll with it,” was the advice we were given.

I was nineteen when I married the man I love. I had visions of happily-ever-after, candlelight dinners and romantic walks on the beach flitting through my mind. Imagine my surprise when I discovered he did the laundry “wrong.”

“Just roll with it,” said an older, wiser friend. “There’s more than one way to do, well, everything.”

I was twenty-one when my son was born. I had visions of an adorable nursery and buggy-pushing walks rolling through my mind. Imagine my surprise when he’d only sleep in my arms and wanted to eat all the time.

“Roll with it,” advised a kind midwife, “He knows what he needs.”

I was twenty-five when the ultrasound tech looked up from the screen and said, “It’s twins.” Visions of crying nights, sleepless days, and never being “enough” cast clouds of anxiety over my mind. Imagine my surprise. (There was a lot of surprise.)

“Roll into bed whenever you can,” said an experienced mother of twins, “Make peace with the fact that you’ll have to do some things differently.”

Just roll with it. Turns out to be the best advice I ever received, so I pass it on: the next time life clobbers you, don’t beat your head against it. Just roll. And when the world stops spinning, take a look back and see what you’ve learned.

 

30 Before 30: Redux June 3, 2011

Filed under: 30 before 30,Blahging — bethanyjoy @ 9:00 am
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I had great plans last summer to complete my 30 before 30 list. Then life happened. Which is fine…my motivation behind the original list was a desire to live with intent, rather than letting life sweep me along. Intentional living involves planning…but it also involves seizing the opportunities as they come, rather than being so fixated on any given goal that you miss the chances that grow out of a busy life. Here’s where the 30 before 30 list ended up:

Bethany’s (revised and altered) 30 before 30

(for the original list, click here)

  1. Go to an amusement park without the kids and ride all the big roller-coasters August 8, 2010
  2. Assemble a family tree picture wall. It didn’t happen quite as I envisioned it…but I did sort, print, and frame a bunch of family photos…and even got them up on the wall. September 2010
  3. Start jogging with my 6-year-old. He wins.
  4. Sew a slipcover for the couch.  July 2010
  5. Knit Bry a sweater. October 2010
  6. Design and publish at least two new knitting/crocheting patterns.  They aren’t online yet, but I’ve written a few for the students in my knitting class. January 2011
  7. Find super comfy jeans that fit. May 2011 (This is always worth celebrating. 😉 )
  8. Stop biting my fingernails  April 2011
  9. Write another NANOWRIMO novel.  Completed November 29, 2010! 54, 755 words. Woot-woot!
  10. Write my 3rd novel. In progress…
  11. Spend weekend stripping wallpaper, painting, and visiting with my Nana. Nov. 2010
  12. Get a book I own signed by the author  “The Gathering” signed by Kelley Armstrong, May 2011
  13. Learn how to make really.really.really.yummy custard. Mmmm. April 2011
  14. Find a new band/musical artist that I *love*. Mumford & Sons! February 2011
  15. Start writing poetry again. Ongoing!
  16. Make my own pasta. Not quite…but I’ve developed kickass bread-baking skills instead. Yum!
  17. Learn to make beaded stitch markers. Knitting bling. It’s all that. 😉
  18. Share written work with others for critique and input. Winter/Spring 2011 – This is probably the goal I’m most proud of, it required a massive amount of willpower/courage for me, but has proved incredibly helpful and encouraging.
  19. Go away with hubby for longer than 24 hours! We owe the Ultimate Uncle and Awesomest Aunt big-time. 🙂
  20. Discover new (to me) authors I enjoy: Jeanine Frost, Seanan McGuire, Lois Macmaster Bujold, Rob Thurman, Jennifer Estep, Scott Westerfield.
  21. Use the camera on my iPhone. So it’s not DSLR…but since it’s always within reach, at least I’m using it to document life on a regular basis. 🙂
  22. Grow hair out. Although, I’m not giving up on the purple yet…
  23. Find & attend a writing circle. Winter 2011
  24. Learn how to remember people’s names when I meet them. Still needs improvement, but I’m getting better. The key is to use the name at least 3 times in the initial meeting, if possible.
  25. Go downhill skiing. No…but I went zip-lining instead. Wheeeeeee!
  26. Learn to knit with beads. Lace with beads, even. Mad skillz, those… 😉
  27. Get a part-time job. This one was an unplanned goal, and has had a major impact on the changes to this list. It’s been good, though – a few hours out of the house each week is good for one’s sanity.
  28. Complete ACE English (final grade: 95%)
  29. Start teaching knitting classes. Another unexpected event! One of my favorite things now…
  30. Take bellydancing lessons. I still want to do this! Unfortunately I’ve somehow ended up taking math instead. Don’t ask me how THAT happened. *sigh*

And since this post is all about lists, here’s another:

Lessons Learned in the Last Year:

  1. Perfection is a foolish goal. Strive for excellence instead.
  2. You’re less likely to say something in anger that you’ll regret later if you sit down, lower your voice, and look the other person in the eyes during an argument.
  3. Colorful scarves and nail polish make any day better.
  4. Deep breathing is almost as good as chocolate when you’re feeling stressed. (Chocolate + breathing = even better.)
  5. Peace comes from knowing who you are, what you need, and where you want to go.
 

How (and why) To Vote With Your Kids April 22, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Kids,Opinionated — bethanyjoy @ 11:43 am
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I was a wide-eyed 7-year-old in 1988, trailing my parents through the crowds at a local arena along with my older and younger brothers. We weren’t there for a hockey game, though – this was a “family field trip” and we were there for a real-life lesson on voting. At the time, I was still trying to make sense of how this had anything to do with the colorful signs all over my neighbours yards, and didn’t realize how that simple trip would impact my life – but I’ve never missed voting in a provincial or federal election since the day I walked in on my 18th birthday with ID in hand to vote for the first time, and it has a lot to do with those early memories. I wasn’t the only one to feel the importance of that day – my younger brother, Eric, is now 23 and running as a candidate for the Green Party, and attributes his interest in politics to that same trip.  Just as I’m passionate about getting out and voting, I’m equally convinced it’s important for us parents to involve our children in the process as much as possible.

We need to teach our kids responsible citizenship in the same way we teach them to brush their teeth

– through example and endless repetition.

(A little nagging never hurts, either. 😉 )


Here’s how (and why) to vote with your kids:

Ride in Style

  • HOW: Keeping infants in carseats, slings or carriers works great. Use your parental powers of persuasion to convince toddlers and preschoolers that the stroller is the sweetest ride around.
  • WHY: You’ll need at least one hand free.

Timing Is Everything

  • HOW: If your kids are preschoolers or younger, pick the time of day they’re happiest – whether that’s right after or during a nap-in-the-carseat – and hit the polls.  If your children are in school, PLEASE consider either voting this weekend in the advance polls so you can take them along, or waiting and going to vote after school or in the early evening on May 2nd.
  • WHY: Waiting to vote during meltdown hour will make the experience memorable in a whole ‘nother way. 😉 Older kids need to SEE you vote, not just talk about it. They do what we DO, not what we say…

Forewarned is Forearmed

  • HOW: Take emergency rations (cheerios, how we love thee!) and entertainment (crayons and coloring book, a few quiet toys). Make sure YOU have all your necessary ID ready and easily accessible, and that you know where you’re going before you leave the house.
  • WHY: Murphy’s law of parenting says if you’re ready to wait, you won’t have to.

Manners Matter

  • HOW: Explain the rules before hand – inside voices, stay by mom/dad, etc. Depending on where you vote, they *might* have to stay a couple of feet behind you on the “white line” or some other mark when you actually vote.
  • WHY: Going over expectations beforehand makes any outing smoother – and we want this one to be positive!

Teamwork

  • HOW: When your friend/neighbour/mother-in-law offers to watch your kids at home so you can vote, politely counter-offer with an invitation to go WITH you and the kids to vote.
  • WHY: You’ll have extra hands to help, and your kids will see even more trusted adults participating on election day – and you never know, maybe you’ll encourage your helpers to vote, too!

Talk, Talk, Talk

  • HOW: Start now – talk about the different candidates in your community, how voting works, why it’s important. Hold mock “elections” at home – vote on what’s for dinner or dessert, which movie to watch, etc. On voting day, explain each step of the process as you go.
  • WHY: As with tooth-brushing, it takes a lot of repetition and explanation to communicate the importance of voting. When children understand the concept on a small scale (yay, chocolate ice cream won tonight!) they can begin to grasp the larger scheme as well. Educating them about the process of going to vote increases the chances that when they’re eighteen, they’ll actually go and do it – because by then they aren’t going to want to listen to your advice. 😉 Give it now, while they still will.

Take Your Village

  • HOW: Team up with another parent or couple, carpool, arrange a big playdate for all the kids while the adults watch the results of the vote trickle in. Offer a ride to people in  your community who need one, and TALK to your fellow parents about the importance of voting while you watch the kids at the park, wait outside school, and watch the t-ball game. Don’t like conflict? Stay away from the “issues” and just try to motivate the vote.
  • WHY: We’re not just cogs in a machine or parents sitting on park benches. We are Canada, and it is vital that we make our voices – ALL OF THEM – heard.

May 2, 2011

Be there. Show you care.

VOTE.

I’d love to hear any other tips or suggestions you might have – how do YOU involve your kids in voting? Any strategies for going to vote? Leave a comment! And if you found this post helpful, pass it on to your fellow parents, and do what you can to motivate the vote around you! Make a difference.

 

Vote. Just…vote. April 21, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Opinionated — bethanyjoy @ 2:12 pm
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As a rule, I dislike blanket statements…but I’m going to make one anyway: You should vote. “You” meaning anyone in a democracy, but specifically my fellow Canadians, in the election that’s creeping up on us. I’ve heard a lot of excuses why people don’t vote, but in my opinion, not one of them is a good enough reason to skip voting:

Excuse #1: I can’t get to the polls.

Reality: Find a friend (or neighbour) to take you, and nag them into voting too. Or you can call any of your local candidates and ask for a ride. They will give you one. Once you’re there, vote for WHOEVER THE HECK YOU WANT TO, regardless of who gave you the ride.

Excuse #2: I don’t like any of the party leaders.

Reality: In Canada, our vote goes to a local candidate, not the party leader. Vote for the local candidate who most closely represents your values.

Excuse #3: None of my local candidates represent my values.

Reality: Prioritize your values, and vote for the candidate who is closest to your most important one(s). Nobody even close? Vote based on the party’s platform, or consider running as a candidate yourself next time… 😉

Excuse #4: I have a (child, parent, pet, paint drying on the wall) and nobody to watch it while I go vote.

If it’s a child, TAKE THEM WITH YOU, and increase the odds of them growing up to be an involved citizen. If it’s a parent and they’re healthy enough to vote, TAKE THEM WITH YOU. If it’s a pet, grab a neighbour who also has a pet and TAKE THEM WITH YOU…you can take turns standing outside and holding the leash. (If you’d really rather watch paint dry than vote…turn on the news and see what’s happening around the world. Be ashamed. Then get off your butt and vote.)

Excuse #5: All politicians are corrupt, I don’t want to support any of them.

Reality: They’re corrupt because we as a nation don’t bother to hold them accountable BY VOTING. Politicians think we don’t care, so they can do whatever they want without consequence. Prove them wrong.

Excuse #6: The candidate I like most will never win in my riding anyway.

Reality: They might, if you and the 1000 other people in your riding thinking the same thing actually voted. (Two elections ago here in Huron-Bruce, the MP was elected by a slight 971 vote lead. That’s not a big number.) And if you really want your vote to count? Consider voting for a local candidate who supports electoral reform. Our “first by the post” system was designed for two parties, not multiple parties. If we moved towards proportional representation, every.single.vote would help get an MP elected, and those who vote with their conscience (like the 1,000,000 Canadians who voted for the Green Party in 2008) will have fair representation.

Excuse #7: I don’t know who my local candidates are.

Reality: All of the party websites have the option to enter your location and be shown your candidate. If you’re short on time, check out CBC Canada Votes 2011 for a list of all the candidates in your region, complete with contact information. Local debates are a great way to see your potential MP’s in action, and they’re usually more civilized and vastly more interesting than the televised party leader debates – plus you get a chance to ask your questions and meet your candidates face-to-face.

Excuse #8: Politics are confusing, I don’t really understand the issues, and I don’t want to vote for the wrong person.

Reality: If you don’t vote, you increase the odds that the “wrong” person will be elected. Pick one or two key issues that you care about personally (childcare? extending EI benefits? green energy? improved public transit?) and spend 5 minutes at each candidate’s website to see what they have to say about it. Can’t find the answer there? Call or email them. You may not agree with everything in a party or candidate’s platform, but if they agree with you on a couple of key issues, it’s a vote well cast.

Excuse #9: I’ve never voted, and I don’t know what to expect.

Reality: By now you should have received a voter’s card in the mail, telling you where to go vote. If not, go to Elections Canada and find out. It’s easy. You’ll also find information there on what kind of ID you’ll need to bring (simplest is a driver’s license, but the website clearly explains other options.) On Election day, go to the appropriate location. There will be many helpful people working who will tell you what to do…and they’ll be happy to do so.

Additional Resources: (I’m including links for the parties represented in my riding. Yours might have others – don’t forget to check them out.)

Liberal Party website

Conservative Party website

Green Party website

New Democratic Party website

Vote Compass (quiz designed to help you figure out your voting priorities; mildly controversial, but interesting.)

May 2, 2011

Be there. Show you care.

VOTE.

 

Just Another Day April 13, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Kids,Writing — bethanyjoy @ 8:37 pm
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1 cup of coffee

2 lunches packed

2 children taken to school

2 others brought back

1 more cup of coffee (ok, I’ll admit to 2)

1,980 words written

2 block towers built and kicked

3 sinks of dishes washed

1 handful of bubbles hurled

3 meals made and shared

1,560 stitches knit

8 little snacks prepared

2 loads of laundry processed

5 chapters of a favorite book

1 child taken to ER

1 prescription filled

1 of 30 doses given

1 blog post shared

Just another day in an ordinary life.

A little bit crazy, and a little bit fun.

A  little bit excitement, and a little bit dull.

A little bit of wonder, a little bit of fear.

Just another day. Just another year…

 

Things I’ll Miss April 5, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Kids — bethanyjoy @ 4:10 pm
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Marbles in the washer,
Toothpaste on the mirror,
Legos stabbing feet as I chase away bad dreams.

Endless cries of “Moooommy!”
Snacktime every hour,
Water spilled across the table, half of dinner on the floor.

My opinion being gospel,
My stories being loved,
“I need a Mommy snuggle!” whenever I cease to move.

Hugs that end with giggles,
Rubbing kisses into my cheeks,
That moment of blissful silence when they’re finally asleep.

 

 
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